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Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State$
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Samuel DeCanio

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198782

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198782.001.0001

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George Pendleton and Mass Opinion

George Pendleton and Mass Opinion

(p.57) Chapter 4 George Pendleton and Mass Opinion
Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State

Samuel DeCanio

Yale University Press

This chapter examines how voter ignorance influenced elections and monetary policy in the immediate postbellum period by focusing on Democrat George Pendleton's use of greenback inflation as a campaign issue in the Ohio gubernatorial election of 1867. Pendleton and fellow Democrat Clement Vallandigham, who opposed the greenbacks when they were initially introduced, took a leading role in demanding currency inflation. The Democratic Party's adoption of inflationary monetary policy forced the Republican Party to defend deflationary monetary policies and the gold standard. This chapter first considers Treasury Department Secretary Hugh McCulloch's decision to withdraw greenbacks from circulation following the end of the Civil War before discussing greenback inflation as a campaign strategy employed by Pendleton in his attempt to become the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination of 1868. It also explores the ramifications of the Democrats' adoption of currency inflation for the development of bureaucratic authority in the Treasury Department.

Keywords:   voter ignorance, elections, monetary policy, George Pendleton, inflation, greenbacks, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Treasury Department, bureaucratic authority

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